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Understanding the differences between active and passive voice is essential for efficient communication when learning grammatical topics. The choice of these voices can have a considerable influence on the clarity and emphasis of a statement. In this examination, we'll look at the differences between active and passive voice, the rules that govern their use in various contexts, and illustrate these principles with examples.

Active and Passive Voice Distinction

The verb voice expresses whether the subject of a phrase performs or receives the action.

Consider this example: "The watchman opens the door." In this active voice sentence, the subject (watchman) opens the door.

In passive voice, the phrase becomes "The door is opened by the watchman," with the emphasis shifting to the door (object) that receives the action.

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Guidelines for Converting Active to Passive Voice: 

Rule #1: Identify (S+V+O) Components

  • Active: He drives a car. (Subject: He, Verb: Drives, Object: Car) 

Rule #2: Interchange Subject and Object

  • Passive: The car is driven by him. (Object "car" is exchanged with the subject "He"). 

Rule #3: Subject Omission in Passive Voice

  • Passive: Milk is sold in liters. (Subject omitted when its presence is unnecessary for meaning). 

Rule #4: Change to Past Participle

  • Active: She prepares dinner. 
  • Passive: Dinner is prepared by her. (The base verb "prepares" changed to past participle "prepared"). 

Rule #5: Pronoun Transformation

Active Voice Pronoun  

 Passive Voice Pronoun 













  • Active: I write a letter. 
  • Passive: A letter is written by me. (Pronoun "I" changed to "me" in passive voice). 

By following these guidelines, one may smoothly transition phrases from active to passive voice, modifying pronouns and structures for efficient communication.

Rule #6: Employ the appropriate auxiliary Verb (is/am/are/was, etc.). The usage of auxiliary verbs in passive voice sentences varies based on the tense, and distinct rules apply to each.  

How to transform sentences from active to passive?




Simple Present tense 

base form or “-s/-es”  

am/is/are + past participle 

Present  Progressive  

am/is/are + -ing 

am/is/are + being + -ed/-en 

Present Perfect 

has/have + -ed/-en 

has/have + been + -ed/-en 

Present Perfect Progressive 

has/have + been + -ing 

has/have + been + being + -ed/-en (Note: Because of awkward construction, the perfect progressive form is not used in the passive voice. Alternatively, an adverb can indicate ongoing action, as demonstrated in the sentence: "We have faced consistent reprimands for our tardiness.) 

Simple Past 

Active Passive base + -ed or irregular form 

Passive was/were + -ed/-en 

Past  Progressive 

was/were + -ing 

was/were + being + -ed/-e 

Past Perfect 

Active had + -ed/- 

Passive had + been + -ed/-en 

Simple Future 

will + base 

will + be + -ed/-en 

Future Progressive 

will + base + -ing 

will + be + being + -ed/en 

When Should You Use Passive Voice

General Statements

  • Active Voice: Use when the subject acts.
    Example: The chef cooked a delightful meal. 
  • Passive Voice: Employ when the focus is on the action or the recipient.
    Example: A delightful meal was cooked by the chef.

Scientific Writing

  • Active Voice: Preferred for clarity and transparency in conveying experimental procedures or findings.
    Example: The researcher experimented." 
  • Passive Voice: Reserved for specific instances where anonymity or emphasis on results is crucial.
    Example: The experiment was conducted to analyze the effects.

Formal or Academic Writing

  • Active Voice: Encouraged for directness and authority in conveying ideas.
    Example: The committee finalized the proposal. 
  • Passive Voice: Used sparingly for objectivity or when the doer is less important. 
    Example: "The proposal was finalized by the committee." 

Narrative Writing

  • Active Voice: Commonly used for vivid storytelling and engaging narratives.
    Example: The hero rescued the hostages 
  • Passive Voice: Intermittently employed to create suspense or shift focus.
    Example: The hostages were rescued just in time. 

Understanding the norms and intricacies of active and passive voice allows authors to deliver their views with greater accuracy and impact, expanding and diversifying their language toolset.

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